The spring semester has ended, graduations have been celebrated and the summer term has begun. Thank you for your valued contributions that support our students and our community. I am writing to update you on recent legislative and Governing Board actions.
New Mexico Legislature
The New Mexico Higher Education Department announced that the Legislative Lottery Scholarship will now fund tuition at 60 percent, down from 90 percent. With students and their families being asked to shoulder more of the costs of college, we continue to play an important role in the education of our residents. Students save thousands of dollars by attending SFCC the first two years before transferring to a four-year school. Under the current climate, it is even more crucial to convey that message. Please encourage students impacted by a decrease in their tuition support to contact financial aid. We have a variety of scholarships and grants that can help them pay for their education.
While the legislature and Governor managed to balance the state budget for the coming fiscal year, the state’s reserves have been effectively depleted and we can expect that funding higher education will be at risk into the future. This is why it’s vital that SFCC plan accordingly.
SFCC Governing Board
The SFCC Governing Board met last Wednesday to approve a final budget, which had to be submitted to the Higher Education Department on June 1. The Board’s decisions are based on these main points:
- State funding continues to decline.
- The college must build up its reserves.
- The college must structure for the future.
- The college must be responsive to changing education and workforce environments.
The outcomes of the approved budget differ slightly from the proposed budget I shared with you earlier this month. Due to the unstable legislative situation, we prepared for a 5 percent cut; we received a one percent cut. Based on that difference, here are the results of the Governing Board’s actions:
- The College’s reserves will increase by $842,823. We have absorbed budget cuts of more than 11 percent over the past few years. Currently, we only have $1.8 million in reserves, which covers only one and a half payrolls. As a reminder, our goal is to build our reserves so that we can cover three to four months of payrolls plus operating costs.
- The college will close two academic programs (Radiologic Technology and Gallery Management), with the timeframe for each aligned with their respective teach-out requirements.
- The Respiratory Care program will continue. We received a commitment from Christus St. Vincent Hospital for funding to help support the program for two years. We will now recruit to start a new cohort in the fall, with the goal of enrolling up to 15 students.
We must continue to work hard to provide high quality education at low tuition rates. To do that, we must be forward thinking even as we face tough challenges (extremely tight budgets, uncertain state and federal funding, decreasing enrollment). These are not insurmountable challenges if we remain flexible and willing to make difficult decisions. As we keep our focus on providing our students the opportunity and the support they need to achieve their potential, we will reap the rewards of empowering our students and strengthening our community.
Randy W. Grissom